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I Haven’t Had A Drink Since I Was Eleven (But, That’s Another Story)

June 5, 2020

We didn’t live in France. The legal drinking age in France is 16 for beer and wine. But, if a child is with their parents, it’s up to the parent’s discretion.

Society is right now in the middle of a protest season. People are protesting the brutal murder of a man at the hands of those committed to serve and protect. It could be a long hot summer of protest.

I have friends who feel the protests are pointless. That nothing ever changes. But, they are wrong. Society changes. It’s often slow. Sometimes brutally fast. Sometimes seems counter-productive. But, society slowly tries to get better.

When I was a kid, society was different in a lot of ways. One way was it’s attitude towards drugs and alcohol. No one assumed they were good for you, but we didn’t yet understand how bad they could be. We didn’t understand the effect that alcohol had an adolescent brains. We didn’t understand a lot of stuff.

But, we did the best we knew how, or our parents did. Just as their parents did a generation before them. And their grandparents before that.

I never tried drugs as a kid. I don’t think my parents did either. If they did, I didn’t know. They did smoke, but for some reason that vice never tempted me. Not even the “just light it up.”

However, alcohol was something I grew up around. In my grandparents’ house was a bar. A full on literal barroom. It had a big mahogony bar with a brass foot rail. There were neon beer signs on the wall.

I don’t ever remember seeing anyone in my family intoxicated. But, I’m not sure I would know. Alcohol was like a seasoning you add to food. But, it was added to social occasions. And at home it was a seasoning we added to dinner.

At the time, it seemed pretty natural. Normal even. It wasn’t something that was hidden. But, it also wasn’t a big deal. I don’t remember if there was a minimum age limit in our house. I’m sure there was, but since it wasn’t a big deal, it’s not something I would have noticed.

So, why’d I quit drinking at the tender age of eleven?

My life changed. My mother married a man that would later become my legal father. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a Mormon. What’s funny is that he wasn’t an active member of the Mormon church. He had been baptized when he was a boy, but wasn’t a practicing member. However, he definately thought well of the church. His daughter, my sister was a few years older than I was. She came to live with us and she brought the missionaries.

We took what are called “the discussions.” It’s how one investigates the Mormon Church. I would imagine that one of the things they teach now is that Mormon Church no longer wants to be called the Mormon Church. They prefer people use the full name of the Church.

But, back in 1976 they were still good with being called Mormons. My brothers my mother and I all joined the Mormon Church.

As you may know the Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a health code. It’s called the Word of Wisdom. It says no coffee or tea. That wasn’t hard for me. At eleven years old, I hadn’t yet developed a taste for coffee. No smoking. Again, not a big deal for an eleven year old. And no alcohol.

Giving up alcohol wasn’t a big deal. In fact it wasn’t a thing at all. Alcohol was just no longer part of the seasonings of our life.

That’s how I went on the wagon prior to my twelfth birthday. I’m happy to stay I haven’t fallen off in the ensuing 44 years.

And to think we aren’t even French.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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